Sunday, August 24, 2008

Marley statue unveiled in Serbia

Bob Marley statue
A Jamaican musician celebrates the statue's unveiling

A statue of late reggae legend Bob Marley has been unveiled in a small Serbian village during a rock festival as a token of peace in the Balkans.

Musicians from Croatia and Serbia were joined by rock fans for the midnight ceremony in Banatski Sokolac.

Organisers said Marley, who died in 1981, "promoted peace and tolerance in his music".

Serbia recently erected a statue of iconic film character Rocky, while Mostar in Bosnia has one of Bruce Lee.


Another Serbian village put up a statue to actor Johnny Weissmuller, best known for his depiction of Tarzan.

Serbian musician Jovan Matic and veteran Croatian rock star Dado Topic took the covers off the Marley statue at the Rock Village event.

It depicts him holding a guitar, with his fist raised in a defiant pose.

Organisers claim that the Marley statue, which was created by Croatian artist Davor Dukic, is the first monument in Europe to the Jamaican-born star.

Bosnia's bronze statue of Bruce Lee, erected in 2005, was seen as a symbol against ethnic divisions deepened by the country's fierce civil war in the 1990s.

The Serbian village of Zitiste put up a statue to Rocky - played by Sylvester Stallone - last year in a bid to shake off a run of bad luck.

A series of floods and landslides had led some people to believe the village was jinxed.

Actor Dies in Motorbike Accident

The late Lee Eon
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Staff Reporter

Lee Eon, a model-turned-actor who starred in the popular MBC drama ``Coffee Prince,'' died in a motorcycle accident at dawn Thursday, Yonhap News reported.

Lee, whose real name is Park Sang-min, was on his way home after attending a party celebrating the end of his KBS drama ``Choi Kang Chil-woo'' (Mighty Chil-woo). He was riding his motorcycle when he hit a railing of the elevated roadway in Hannam-dong, Yongsan at around 2 a.m.

The 27-year old actor died on the spot and was taken to Soonchunhyang University Hospital in Hannam-dong, Seoul. The police have not yet determined if Lee was drunk when he got into the motorcycle accident.

Lee gained fame last year for his role as a dim-witted but loveable Min-yeop in ``Coffee Prince.''

When he was in elementary school, Lee started participating in ssireum or traditional Korean wrestling. He proved to be an excellent athlete and won gold medals at Korean national ssireum competitions in 1997 and 1998.

However, as a freshman in university, Lee saw model Cha Seung-won on TV and decided to become a model. He worked hard to lose 30 kilos in order to gain the slim physique of a model. He made his debut in a fashion show in Busan in 1999.

With his good looks, Lee soon became a sought-after model, appearing in numerous fashion shows, including the Seoul Fashion Artists Association Collection. He also branched out into acting in dramas, which led to his role in ``Coffee Prince.''

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Argentina and Uruguay's tango row

Carlos Gardel
For many Argentineans Carlos Gardel embodies the soul of tango
Relations between Argentina and its much smaller neighbour, Uruguay, have been strained for some time in a dispute over a pulp paper mill built on the river that separates the two countries.

But as Daniel Schweimler recently discovered, a much more serious dispute has emerged that strikes at the very heart and soul of both nations' national identity.

One of the great Argentine icons, alongside footballer Diego Maradona and the former first lady, Eva Peron, is the tango singer, Carlos Gardel.

Pictures of him with his slicked-backed hair and perfectly tailored suits adorn many Argentine bars and restaurants and you will often hear his songs played by Buenos Aires taxi drivers on the all-tango radio stations.

He was an early playboy, an international superstar who came to a tragic and premature end in a plane crash in Colombia in 1935. Gardel is to Argentina what Frank Sinatra is to the United States or Edith Piaf is to France.

Carlos Gardel's 'birthplace' and museum in Tacuarembo, northern Uruguay
A copy of Gardel's birth certificate states he was born in Tacuarembo

So while driving through northern Uruguay recently, I had to take a second look when I saw a sign pointing to Carlos Gardel's birthplace and museum.

How cheeky can you get? It is like Canadians saying that Sinatra was not really born in Hoboken, New Jersey, but in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Or the British claiming that Edith Piaf really hailed from Basingstoke in southern England.

Gardel is as Argentinean as a big lump of juicy steak being barbequed by gauchos out on the pampas. But not according to the Uruguayans, and they have the evidence to prove it - or so they say.

Tango is not just a style of music and dance - it is the beat to which both nations evolved from their immigrant roots

The museum, playing strains of some of his famously dramatic songs, displays a copy of his birth certificate stating very clearly that he was born in Tacuarembo in northern Uruguay.

It tells, in graphic detail, the story of how Carlos Gardel - the Uruguayan tango star, came to be. His father was a local landowner, Carlos Escayola.

When his first wife died, he married her younger sister. But while married to her, had an affair and fathered a child with the third sister, Maria Lelia Oliva, aged just 13.

To avoid scandal the son, young Carlos, was given to a visiting French cabaret dancer - Berta Gardes who Escayola, just for good measure, also had an affair with. She took the boy back to Toulouse and two or three years later emigrated to Argentina.

Record player at Carlos Gardel museum in Uruguay
Gardel died in an airplane crash in 1935 at the height of his career

The Argentine version is that Gardel was born in France but was brought to Argentina as a young boy where, as a resident of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, he rose to become an Argentinean, not a Uruguayan, tango legend.

"Who cares where he was born?" I hear you ask. "Just listen to the music and watch where you flick that tango heel."

But this dispute goes to the heart of Argentine and Uruguayan national identity.

Tango is not just a style of music and dance - it is the beat to which both nations evolved from their immigrant roots. It matters.

There is a commission in the town of Tacuarembo dedicated to proving that Gardel was Uruguayan.

Four years ago an Argentine judge refused a Uruguayan request to have Gardel's remains disinterred for DNA testing to prove links with alleged Uruguayan relatives.

And now an Argentine study group has sent a delegation to Uruguay with evidence that Gardel was not born there. They want the issue discussed in the Uruguayan Parliament.

Shady past

Tango was born at the end of the 19th Century in the brothels and bars of Buenos Aires when men, in simulated knife fights, danced with other men.


Because of those roots, tango was for a long time associated with sleaze - and it was in this world that Carlos Gardel grew up - a notorious womaniser who, it has been strongly rumoured but never proved, served a prison sentence before he became famous.

Because of this shady past, Gardel was decidedly ambiguous when questioned about his early years. One Argentine theory is that he made up his Uruguayan background to confuse his identity and cover up his prison record.

And how could a man, ask the Argentineans, who sang with such passion about his beloved Buenos Aires, be Uruguayan?

Looking at photographs of Gardel, with his cheeky smile and trilby hat set at a rakish angle, I cannot help but think that he deliberately sowed the seeds of this controversy.

And, more than 70 years after his tragic demise, is quietly relishing the debate, wherever it is that tango singers go when they die.

From Our Own Correspondent was broadcast on Saturday, 16 August, 2008 at 1130 BST on BBC Radio 4. Please check the programme schedules for World Service transmission times.

Rare pictures from WWI POW camp show the birth of sausages in Japan

Karl Jahn, right, and another man are seen cutting pork in this picture. (Photo courtesy of Kasumigaura-shi Kyodo Shiryokan)
Karl Jahn, right, and another man are seen cutting pork in this picture. (Photo courtesy of Kasumigaura-shi Kyodo Shiryokan)

CHIBA -- Rare pictures of German prisoners of war from World War I showing the Japanese how to produce sausages have been discovered.

Takashi Chiba, 37, a museum curator at the Kasumigaura-shi Kyodo Shiryokan in Ibaraki Prefecture, found the pictures in June while he was researching Yoshifusa Iida, a Japanese government official who was said to have spread sausage manufacturing methods across Japan.

The 10 pictures from 1918 show German soldiers, who were detained at the Narashino prison camp in then Ninomiya (present-day Narashino) in Chiba Prefecture, butchering pigs and smoking pork to make sausages.

The pictures are in possession of Sachio Yano, 82, who worked at an experimental livestock institute in the city of Chiba run by the former Japanese ministry of agriculture and commerce.

Chiba learned of the pictures while studying about Iida (1876-1976), a ministry engineer. Yano was given the pictures when the institute moved to Kukizaki (present-day Tsukuba) in Ibaraki Prefecture in 1980.

From descriptions in a book authored by Iida, the pictures were probably taken in February 1918, and they also show Iida himself.

"I asked sausage makers at the prison to make sausages. It happened just as I was devoting myself to producing processed meat products experimentally," according to the book.

"The sausage makers were Karl Jahn and other meat processors. They showed us how to make 12 types of sausages."

Iida later passed down the sausage making method to meat processors across the nation, heralding the spread of sausages in Japan.

"The authentic German art (of sausage making) is pictured, and the photos are precious and significant in that they recorded the beginning of sausage making in Japan," said Norio Hotta, president of Banshu Ham Corp. in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture. Hotta is an expert in the history of meat processing in Japan.

(Mainichi Japan) August 16, 2008

With a rusty old saw like this, a Victorian surgeon could amputate your leg in 30 seconds flat. One snag - they hadn't invented anaesthetic

By Richard Hollingham
Last updated at 9:29 PM on 15th August 2008


'Time me, gentlemen!' It's just after midday on a late spring day in 1842 and the wooden viewing galleries that surround the operating room of University College Hospital, London, are packed.

Sir Robert Liston, the foremost surgeon of his age, and a man whose temper is as sharp as his chiselled features, is about to begin work.

The assembled crowd of anxious medical students dutifully check their pocket watches, as two of Liston's surgical assistants - 'dressers' as they are called - take firm hold of the struggling patient's shoulders.

The fully conscious man, already racked with pain from the badly broken leg he suffered by falling between a train and the platform at nearby King's Cross, looks in total horror at the collection of knives, saws and needles that lie alongside him.

Liston clamps his left hand across the patient's thigh, picks up his favourite knife and in one rapid movement makes his incision.

A dresser immediately tightens a tourniquet to stem the blood.

As the patient screams with pain, Liston puts the knife away and grabs the saw.

With an assistant exposing the bone, Liston begins to cut.

Suddenly, the nervous student who has been volunteered to steady the injured leg realises he is supporting its full weight. With a shudder he drops the severed limb into a waiting box of sawdust.

Liston, however, is still busy, tying off the main artery of the thigh with a reef knot and then tying off other smaller blood vessels, at one point even holding the thread in his mouth. As the tourniquet is loosened, the flesh is stitched.

The operation is over. And it has taken just 30 seconds.

For all the agonies he has just suffered, this patient is lucky. Liston is a fine surgeon and, by nature, a man of tidy habits who makes sure his staff keep his operating room reasonably clean.

As a result - although Liston is unaware the two things are related - only about one in ten of his patients dies after their operations. Nearby, at St Bartholomew's Hospital, the death rate is one in four.

Surgery may have come a long way by the mid-19th century but, as the mortality rates showed, it still had an awful long way to go.

It was no accident of design that Liston's operating room was located next door to the hospital's mortuary.

And yet, as the dressers wipe down the operating table with a rag in preparation for the next patient, surgery is about to enter a period of radical transformation - 20 years of astonishing progress that will turn it from something that, at times, still seemed little better than butchery into the beginning of the modern surgical era. And Liston is to play a key role.

By the time he set out on his surgical career, two of the four major barriers to successful surgery had long been overcome, thanks to the tireless work of pioneers who litter the pages of surgical history.

Those crucial breakthroughs had come courtesy of men like Andreas Vesalius, a Flemish medical student who in 1536 stole the rotting corpse of an executed criminal from a gibbet to further his studies that, many dissections later, were to lay the foundations for modern human anatomy.

Surgeons have to know how the body works and, thanks to men like Vesalius, they finally did. Then there was Ambroise Pare, a barber surgeon (traditionally, barbers would carry out basic surgery - often on injured soldiers) from Paris.

Having been appointed a battlefield surgeon to the French infantry he was appalled, not just by the terrible injuries he was asked to treat after the siege of Turin in 1537, but also by the horrific suffering of the wounded soldiers, both before and after treatment.

Many simply bled to death, while others either died of shock or were left in terrible pain after their treatment. Bleeding wounds were either cauterised with a hot iron or had boiling oil poured into them.

victorian surgery

Ordeal: Inside a Victorian surgery

There had to be a better way, thought Pare, who, despite his lack of proper medical training - a shortcoming all too typical of the barber surgeons of the 16th century - was a compassionate and diligent man.

What he came up with was simple: a device known as the crow's beak that could be clamped across an artery to block the flow of blood.

It was the first surgical clamp and, along with subsequent progress in the tying and stitching of individual blood vessels, heralded the removal of the second barrier - the control of blood loss - to successful surgery.

But after these 16th-century breakthroughs, there had been relatively little progress for 300 years, as Liston's whimpering, traumatised patient would probably attest.

Small wonder then, despite the prowess of men like Liston, surgery still had nothing like the social standing of medicine.

Physicians, despite still being wedded to blood-letting, leeches and baths of 'herbs and sheep heads', were men of real status; surgeons, by comparison, many of whom still took pride in operating in their bloodstained frock coats, were seen as part-showmen, part-butchers.

However, that was about to change. The next major obstacle - the control of pain - was about to be overcome and, in 1846, Liston was to lead the way.

The patient was Frederick Churchill, a butler whose right knee had been causing problems for years. All sorts of cures had been tried; none had succeeded. Now, after brutal investigations and painful infections, amputation was the only option. This amputation, however, was to be different.

Liston enters and, as ever, the operating room falls quiet. But, for once, Liston departs from his normal script. 'We are going to try a Yankee dodge today, gentlemen, for making men insensible.'

A rubber tube is held to Churchill's mouth and he is told to breathe through it for two to three minutes. Eventually, he becomes still and quiet. A handkerchief laced with some drops is placed over his face. Liston begins.

Robert Liston

Pioneer: Engraving of surgeon Sir Robert Liston

As ever, the students check their pocket watches. With the patient unconscious, the amputation takes just 25 seconds.

A few minutes later, Churchill, who has not uttered a single groan during the procedure, begins to come round: 'When are you going to begin?' he asks, prompting peals of laughter from the gallery.

Ether, the discovery of an American dentist, William Morton, has become the first surgical anaesthetic. Unfortunately, Liston would not live to see the full potential of anaesthetics. He died in a sailing accident less than a year later.

It soon became clear, however, that ether was not quite the pain-relieving panacea once thought. It irritated the mouth and lungs, caused vomiting in some patients and, most alarmingly, given that operating rooms were still lit by gaslight, was highly inflammable.

James Simpson, a young professor of midwifery at Edinburgh University and a former pupil of Liston's, was determined to find an alternative. He spent the summer of 1847 trying out every chemical he could lay his hands on, mixing them, drinking them, sniffing them.

Then, one day, he tried a new chemical that had been suggested by a Liverpool chemist - chloroform. He woke up on the floor.

Having successfully tried it out on some dinner party guests, it was just four days later that he used it on a patient, a young woman facing a potentially painful forceps delivery.

It was a resounding success - with mother and baby both surviving the birth - and Simpson had used it 50 times within a week.

Ether may have been an American discovery but the use of chloroform was better - and it was Scottish.

Simpson became a national hero and was given a state funeral when he died in 1870. And by then surgery had taken another big step forward.

In 1865, Joseph Lister was walking the wards of his Glasgow hospital. For the Essex-born professor of surgery, it was a horrible experience.

As the nurses removed the sheets so he could examine his patients' wounds, time after time the sickly stench of putrefying flesh would pervade the room.

Thanks to the improvements in anatomy, blood loss and, anaesthesia, patients would arrive at the hospital, confident of feeling little pain and of making a full recovery.

Two weeks later, however, most of them would be dead, having succumbed to gangrene, fevers or blood poisoning.

No wonder that surgeons, like Lister, another former pupil of Liston's, would operate only as a last resort.

The source of these infections was unknown, many blaming it on bad air, some sort of so-called 'miasma'. But the Glasgow hospital was new; with well-spaced beds and light, airy wards.

Still Lister's patients became infected, and still they died. Until this problem was solved, surgery could go no further.


Tools of the trade: A Victorian surgeon's implements

Any limb with a complex fracture (where the broken bone has pierced the skin) usually had to be amputated as almost without exception infection would set in, while cutting into the abdomen to remove an appendix or operate on the organs was completely out of the question.

Lister, who also studied science more as a gentlemanly hobby than as an aide to his profession, was determined to find the answer and he did so when a colleague, a professor of chemistry, pointed him in the direction of the work of the French chemist Louis Pasteur.

Pasteur had sterilised a flask of broth by boiling it. He plugged the top with cotton wool to allow the passage of air but nothing else.

After a few days, the broth remained sterile. It was only when the cotton wool was removed that the broth became putrid.

Pasteur had proved that it was something in the air, not the air itself, that caused a substance to rot.

He called them germs; today we'd call them micro-organisms.

Lister's breakthrough was to realise that it was these germs that were also killing his patients. But how to get rid of them?

Pasteur had sterilised his experiments by heat but that clearly wouldn't work for human beings. Lister started experimenting with chemicals but without success.
The answer came from an unlikely source: sewage.

A hundred miles south in Carlisle, the authorities were trying a new sewage treatment to rid the city's drains and cesspools of their terrible smell.

The compound they found worked best was carbolic acid, made from coal tar.

Lister reasoned that what killed germs in sewage might also destroy germs in wounds, so, in the best traditions of surgery, he decided to try out his new 'antiseptic' principle on a patient.

James Greenlees was an 11-year-old boy who had been run over by a cart and had a compound fracture of his left leg, with the broken bone piercing the skin to leave an open wound of significant size.

Until now, although the leg would have been set, the open wound would inevitably have become infected and amputation would be the end result. But Lister wanted to try out his new ideas.

The leg was reset and splinted, only this time the wound was covered in lint soaked in carbolic acid.

Four days later, by which time infection had normally set in, the lint was removed and the wound, to Lister's delight and astonishment, was found to be perfectly clean.

Six weeks later, the splints are removed and James walks home. Surgery will never be the same again and nor, with cleanliness and carbolic acid gradually becoming the norm, are hospital death rates.

All the key components were now in place. By the end of the 19th century, surgeons had a better understanding of human anatomy, they could stem blood loss and, through anaesthesia, they were able to control pain.

Thanks to Lister, they could now even operate without causing infection. Modern surgery had begun.

Over the next century, surgical progress would be astonishing; with anaesthetics and sterile conditions giving surgeons access first to the abdomen, then the heart and finally the brain.

There would be many setbacks and sadly many patients would still die as new techniques were tried out and perfected. Even today, surgery remains a risky business.

But, as our understanding of the rejection process has improved, organ transplants have become almost commonplace, limited only by the supply of donor organs.

Forty years ago, we all marvelled at the first heart transplant carried out by the South African surgeon, Christiaan Barnard; now we agonise over the ethics of carrying out the first face transplant.

Surgically, it's possible but if and when the first one is carried out, it will only be - as all modern surgery is - thanks to the extraordinary work of those Victorian pioneers.

Extracted from Blood And Guts: A History Of Surgery by Richard Hollingham (BBC Books, £18.99). © Richard Hollingham, 2008. To order a copy of the book for £17.09 (p&p free), call 0845 155 0720.

Madagascar's dance with the dead

To outsiders dancing with the corpse of a dead loved one, years after their demise, might seem ghoulish. But as Jonny Hogg reports, to the people of Madagascar, it is a ritual of respect for their departed ancestors.

Turning of the Bones in Madagascar
Turning of the Bones is a centuries old ritual

The band, a cacophonous near harmony of tattered trumpets and elderly clarinets, has been has been playing for hours now.

The hilltop is crowded. The entire community has come to this spot, some distance from the village of Vatolaivy.

People talk and smile, many are drunk, most are dancing and a little distance away from the tomb two entrepreneurial women have set up a stall selling cigarettes and frozen yoghurt.

But it is the tomb itself that is the centre of attention.

Indeed it is for the occupants of the low, flat brick structure that these festivities are taking place.

Masons chip away, unsealing the small stone door.

Finally, the sepulchre is open. I am invited to enter with Roger, whose family are buried here.

Inside the air is dry, with a strong, almost spiced, graveyard scent.

On either side of the room are stone beds, and on them lie the bodies of Roger's parents and his grandparents, wrapped in yellowing cloth.

Turning of the Bones

He stands proudly amongst his ancestors, introducing me to them almost formally, patting each corpse lightly to identify it.

I emerge once more into the harsh sunlight. Behind me, one by one and with great care, the bodies are carried out of the tomb and laid upon the ground, cradled gently by their relatives.

The rest of the village crowd around, spectators to this piece of family theatre.

At last even the band comes to a stumbling halt. A sort of silence descends.

One girl is holding her dead mother in her arms. She makes no noise but tears stream down her face.

Map of Madagascar

This is the Malagasy tradition of famadihana, or the Turning of the Bones.

It is unique to the Indian Ocean island, a ritual carried out for centuries that may have had its roots in the culture and traditions of South East Asia, some 6,000km (3,728 miles) away, from whence Madagascar was first colonised.

For many outsiders the practice, which involves exhuming dead relatives, rewrapping them in fresh grave clothes and dancing with them around the tomb, can seem almost impossibly strange, ghoulish even.

But for the Malagasy, for whom ancestral worship remains important, it is an essential way of maintaining ties with the dead.

Jean Pierre, a family member, told me why famadihana mattered.

"It's important because it's our way of respecting the dead," he told me. "It is also a chance for the whole family, from across the country, to come together."

'Act of love'

Anthropologist Professor Maurice Bloch, who has studied the ritual, says this idea of reunion, between the dead and the living and also the family land, is key.

Turning of the Bones in Madagascar
The ceremony is also a chance for a family reunion
It is an evocation of being together again, a transformation of sorts so that the dead can experience once more the joys of life. But, most importantly he says, at its heart, famadihana is an act of love.

But some oppose the practice. Certain urbanised Malagasy find the idea outdated and strange in the 21st Century.

There have also been clashes with Christianity. Early missionaries to the country tried to stop it and today increasing numbers of evangelical Christians are turning away from famadihana.

Perhaps surprisingly though, the Roman Catholic Church, the largest in the country, no longer opposes it.

For his part Jean Pierre stressed that in any case it is not a religious ceremony, but a tradition.

Tears to laughter

Back outside the tomb the family begins to tenderly rewrap the bodies with fresh cloth, called lambas, bought at great expense.

The mood lightens and the band strikes up once more.

The corpses are lifted onto shoulders, and with much laughing and jostling they are half carried, half danced around the tomb.

Every few steps with a whoop, the bearers lift them even higher.

I notice the girl who had been crying earlier is smiling and joking with the rest.

This is another transformation and another purpose of famadihana. To convert, almost forcibly, by the requirements of the ritual, grief into happiness.

From Our Own Correspondent will be broadcast on Saturday, 16 August, 2008 at 1130 BST on BBC Radio 4. Please check the programme schedules for World Service transmission times.

The cousins go home after a week of romping

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